“Like every other guide or wildlife lover who is eventually eaten or trampled, I felt I had a bond with this herd that would make me safe with them.”
Peter Allison from Don’t Look Behind You.
April’s Travel Book of the Month selection takes us to Africa with Peter Allison’s hysterical Don’t Look Behind You. As a kid, I grew up mesmerized by Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom’s Marlin Perkins. I couldn’t imagine a cooler job (although I was perplexed even at a young age as to why Marlin got all of the spotlight but Jim Fowler did all of the work). Peter Allison was equally as fascinated by the British counterpart David Attenborough. Despite his self admitted lack of most skills necessary to be a safari guide, Peter saw his dream to fulfillment and chronicles his lucky to be alive path.
Desperately searching for something to read before boarding an international flight, I picked up this book in a nondescript airport bookstore, Don’t Look Behind You was a pleasant and humorous surprise. It’s an easy read and quite entertaining. Peter’s self deprecating humor tells the tale of his stumbling and bumbling through life in his career pursuit of being a safari guide. Most stories are funny but at times are edge of your seat intense. If you have ever romanticized as to what it would be like to live in Africa and be a safari guide this is not your answer.
Peter’s series of short essays are informative as well as entertaining, providing insight into the creatures and landscape of the Okavango Delta in southern Africa, including some of the most dangerous creatures – herds of untamed tourists and foolhardy guides. Glamourous is not the adjective to describe his career, from destroying several vehicles, spending the night in a thorn tree with hungry hyenas below, floating a makeshift raft in whitewater filled with hippos and crocs, or finding a leopard in his tent. I certainly recommend this as an amusing read. His retelling of his experiences will keep you turning pages and totally amazed that he has escaped unscathed. As my mother used to say, “If you’re gonna be dumb, you got to be tough.”